96 per cent of UK unaware of ‘smart city’ initiatives

New research has revealed that almost everyone in the UK is unaware of their council’s ‘smart city’ plans

Almost the entire UK population (96 per cent) are currently unaware of their local council's smart cities' plans, with a further 48 per cent thinking that smart cities are more than five years away from reality.

The research comes from YouGov and Arquiva, and reveals the apparent discrepancy between the perception of connected cities by councils, and by the public at large. In addition to a general ignorance of plans for their area, 23 per cent of respondents also failed to pinpoint any benefits of smart cities.

Sean Weir, business development director of smart metering and M2M at Arquiva, said: "There seems to be a dire lack of understanding of the progress and impact being made by the UK's cities resulting in almost half of our citizens feeling that smart cities across the UK are still more than five years away.

"Without the proper support these initiatives will die on their feet, so far greater communication is needed on what exactly is happening and why people should care."

More than 2,000 UK adults were surveyed as part of the study, and traffic congestion was most commonly identified by respondents (57 per cent) and councils (33 per cent) as a problem that can and should be helped by technology.

"Many smart city initiatives are only small scale pilot or lab-based experiments and it appears that many cities lack the ability to roll-out large scale smart projects that would truly make a difference to local citizens," Weir continued.

The government announced it would invest 40m in smart city technology to encourage cities, universities and businesses to collaborate, and funding would be offered to a smart cities demonstrator showcasing IoT initiatives.

In response to the promises, which were revealed by George Osborne during the budget announcement ahead of the 2015 general election, techUK CEO Julian David said: "The UK is well placed to be a global leader in the development of the Internet of Things and the announcement of the 40 million investment will help accelerate the development of new innovative solutions for health, social care and smart cities."

Younger people appear to be more engaged with smart cities' initiatives, however, with 37 per cent of 18-24 year olds claiming they are passionate about their nearest city becoming a smart one. Additionally, 33 per cent said they would consider moving if another city was smarter than theirs.

Weir added: "Councils desperately need to find a way to harness the enthusiasm of the tech-savvy younger generation. If done correctly, they create powerful advocates to spread awareness if done wrong, they risk their city's economic future."

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